Breaking The Mold: How You Can Run For Office As A Person With A Disability

By Ed Carter, ablefutures.org

A person in a wheelchair moves down a hallway in actionPolitics is a highly contentious and often unforgiving arena, so it takes a great deal of grit, courage, and energy to pursue a political career. It also demands no small amount of resources, and it is for this reason that so many ethnic, minority, and marginalized groups are so noticeably under-represented. Among these are people with disabilities, which is a real shame as this is one group that needs to be represented in political offices.

Thankfully, the tide has been changing, and we have seen more and more candidates with disabilities throwing their proverbial hats into the ring of late. Indeed, if you’re a person with a disability who is planning to seek a political position, the potential for doing a load of good by representing your fellows is great — not to mention, worthy of the challenges that you are bound to face (of which there will be plenty). Here are a few things you must remember as you get ready to go into the political sphere.

Choose to Have the Best People in Your Camp

A photo of the Capitol building at night against a clear blue evening sky.At the core of every successful political campaign is a corps of staffers. This is basically a well-oiled machine made up of both volunteers and paid individuals that, simply put, gets things done. Your campaign staff will take care of everything from fundraising to research, voter canvassing to scheduling appearances and appointments — the list can go on and on. And because each element of your campaign is essential, you want to be certain that you have the most efficient and most effective individuals in your camp, as well as the most trustworthy.

Among the people you will need in your campaign is an email marketing consultant. Such a professional is especially important in this day and age when even political campaigns have gone digital. You will need someone who knows how to reach and engage voters through targeted emails. Thankfully, there are online job boards where you can find email marketing specialists with the experience and expertise to handle such a critical function of your campaign.

Put Yourself Through Boot Camp

A screenshot from Senator Warren's plan to address the needs of people with disabilities. It reads "Protecting the rights and equality of people with disabilities"As a political candidate, you undoubtedly have a lot riding on your shoulders. In fact, you are essentially seeking to represent people who, like you, are constantly facing challenges because of complex policies surrounding disabilities. Running for office is a huge responsibility, which is why you also want to make sure that you are the best possible candidate for the job.

Thankfully, there are various organizations that recognize the need for more disability representation in politics. For this reason, they are encouraging more people with disabilities to run for office by providing valuable training in politically-crucial skills like public speaking, policy-making, fundraising, and so much more. It’s a good idea to consider going through such training — not only so you can be the best representative you can be, but also so you’re better equipped to handle the many challenges you will face as you run for office.

Gear Up for a Good Fight

Sarah smiles in foreground of photo with two women standing behind her, one in green and the other in blue.And speaking of challenges, it’s wise to also have a clear idea of what you will be up against as a person with a disability running for public office. Many of these challenges will be related to the stigma of disability, which you certainly aren’t new to. Sad to say, there is still the stereotype of disabilities being weaknesses, which political opponents are likely to exploit and use to their advantage. However, as long as you are well-prepared, know your policies inside and out, and are truly passionate about what you’re representing, then you’re better able to stand your ground.

Indeed, politics is not for the faint of heart, and giving it a shot as a person with a disability can be double the challenge. But with adequate preparation, sufficient support, and your heart in the right place, there’s no reason why you won’t triumph. You can contribute to making the world better for people with disabilities.

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